Does Laser Hair Removal Work?

Before laser came along, permanent hair removal was limited to costly, time-consuming methods such as electrolysis. It was either that or waxing, threading, or some other maintenance-heavy procedure that required regular revisits. Laser offers a safe, permanent, and mostly pain-free alternative.

So does laser hair removal work? The short answer is yes—the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a number of laser products for clinical use, and very few adverse effects have been reported. The long answer, however, is that it works best for specific skin and hair types, and there’s always a chance that a different procedure will suit you better.

Laser hair removal works by aiming an invisible light beam onto your skin, and using heat from that beam to remove the hair follicles from their roots. This happens below your skin and doesn’t affect the surface, except for slight irritation in some people. Most practitioners apply a cooling gel to the skin being targeted to help relieve the burn, as well as prevent skin injuries.

The laser finds the follicle by sensing melanin, or the pigmentation present in the follicle. It therefore works best for light-skinned, dark-haired people, where hair is most visible against the skin. People with different coloration can still get laser hair treatments, although it may take longer or require more sessions.

As mentioned above, only certain laser hair removal methods are approved by the FDA. There are four: ruby lasers, alexandrite, diodes, and Nd:YAG (a specialized type of garnet). Ruby lasers are the oldest and generally don’t work on dark and tanned skin, except for a few new variations. Alexandrite lasers are the fastest, as they cover larger areas at a time. Although it still favors light skin, alexandrite produces fair results with light brown to olive complexions. Diodes can penetrate deeper and better locate follicles on dark skin, but tends to have trouble with fine hair.

Nd:YAG (short for Neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet) is a type of crystal designed specifically as an active laser medium. It’s the most recommended type for dark-skinned people, and works just as well in removing lesions and tattoos. However, people have reported more discomfort with this type, and being new, treatments can be noticeably more expensive.

Make sure to ask about these options when shopping around for laser hair removal services. Not all clinics will offer all four, but some will give you an estimate and tell you which one suits you best. Don’t go for the cheapest or the first one that comes along—there can be considerable differences in quality between two clinics, and you want to make sure you’re in good hands.

Body Jewelry: Staying Safe

Modern entertainment has given today’s generation a taste for body jewelry. Brow studs, belly button rings, nose rings, and a wealth of other accessories have turned up in games and movies, and consumers are of course following suit. No part of the body seems immune to this new fashion trend, and it seems to be gaining ground.

Diamond jewelry and gold chains are still on top of the line, but more and more younger buyers seem to be opting for cutting-edge accessories. Body piercings are especially popular, probably as the technology became more available, widespread, and cheap. Practically every other jewelry store now offers a piercing service that the typical high schooler’s allowance can easily afford.

But how safe are body piercings? The first and perhaps most obvious risk is infection. No matter how you put it, a piercing is essentially a wound, and like any wound, it’s an open door for germs, bacteria, and disease. While the chances of catching something are small, especially if the place is well sanitized, you can never cut the risk down to zero. Bacterial infection usually involves swelling, redness, and acute pain, and should be treated immediately to avoid spreading.

Other people may be allergic to certain metals, commonly brass and nickel. This is a fairly common reaction, and most places have actually switched exclusively to non-reactive metals such as stainless steel and titanium. Some stainless steel jewelry and piercing supplies contain a bit of nickel, but usually not enough to cause an allergic reaction. It may be best to stick to hypoallergenic metals if you’re getting a piercing, especially if you have sensitive skin.

A lesser but more serious risk is the transfer of blood-borne diseases through piercings. These include HIV, hepatitis B and C, and tetanus. This is often the result of poor sterilization, which may happen when equipment is used on several people. Your best bet is to choose the place wisely and keep an eye on their hygiene practices, or to go to an authorized, well-established clinic with a good track record.

Better yet, steer clear of piercings altogether and opt for more traditional jewelry, such as rings and necklaces. Silver rings for women have much of the same appeal as stainless steel piercings, but are much more timeless and valuable, not to mention safe. If you do opt for a piercing, make sure to weigh your options and take every safety measure.

Teeth Whitening At Home

For a large part, media has been instrumental in creating the hype towards whiter teeth. But the fact is that blindingly white teeth aren’t the norm; human teeth naturally discolour over time as the outer enamel thins, and as they absorb liquids from your food. A healthy adult’s teeth will have a pale, barely noticeable yellow tinge; that’s perfectly healthy. That’s why those toothpaste commercials seem so surreal—those teeth simply don’t exist in everyday life.

But that doesn’t mean there’s no credit to teeth whitening. Some people opt for the procedure because their dental colouring has significantly changed, either from smoking, gum problems, or some other condition. If you think you’re a good candidate for it, start with something simple: try teeth whitening at home.

Home teeth whitening products range from specialized toothpastes to strips that you leave on your teeth for a while. The key to most of these products is peroxide, a well-known mild bleaching agent. It works by creating bubbles on tooth enamel that help lift away the stains. While its use has room for improvement, it’s generally regarded as the best way to whiten teeth without going to the dentist.

Hydrogen peroxide teeth whitening is proven safe for the mouth, but some side effects are possible. The most common is temporary tooth sensitivity. This happens when some of the bleaching agent gets trapped in the tooth’s nerve passages. The sensation usually lasts no more than a couple of days.

Another common method is the use of whitening strips. These strips are held against the tooth enamel for about half an hour every day, providing maximum contact with hydrogen peroxide. The treatment lasts about a week, or until you get the desired shade. Not all strips work the same way, but most will contain instructions on how to whiten teeth at home using the product. This method isn’t as popular because the strips can be uncomfortable to wear, although the whitening tends to be more efficient.

Doctors recommend teeth whitening at home only to people with healthy teeth who have seen their dentist in the past year. People with especially sensitive teeth, those with crowns or fillings on the front, and those with gray rather than yellow teeth should opt for more professional procedures. If you fall under one of these categories, your dentist can tell you how to whiten your teeth at home safely, or recommend a professional who can do it for you.

Wisdom Teeth Removal Cost

Most people develop wisdom teeth around age 10, but the teeth themselves can surface anywhere from two to 15 years later. This unpredictability makes them tricky—you never how the tooth will grow, and there’s always a chance that it will grow the wrong way. The most common problem is impacting, where the molar grows into adjacent teeth and keeps them from emerging. In this case, the tooth must be removed; otherwise they can get very painful and even affect neighboring organs, such as the sinus.

Wisdom teeth extraction is considered minor surgery. It is performed with strong local anesthesia and usually a local sedative to help keep the patient still. While it’s a fairly safe procedure, not all people are good candidates for wisdom teeth extraction. For instance, older people are usually more prone to complications, which is why dentists recommend having wisdom teeth removed by age 18. As you get older, your teeth become fused to your facial bone, and removing them becomes increasingly risky.

Some side effects can occur both as a result of the medication and the extraction itself. If you were given a strong sedative, you may feel lightheaded for a while after the procedure. After the operation, you may feel some pain and swelling on the side of your face, and your lower lip may be a little sensitive. Depending on how long the extraction took, you may also feel some stiffness in your jaw. These are often no cause for concern, but if the pain lasts more than two weeks, call your dentist for a follow-up.

Extraction costs $150 to $350 per tooth, but this doesn’t include related services such as X-rays, anesthesia, sedation, and medications. The total price can be anywhere between $500 and $1,000, or more for complicated procedures. Factors affecting wisdom teeth removal cost include your location (dentists in some areas charge more than others), your dentist (more experienced dentists charge more), and the scope of the procedure (complicated cases take more of the dentist’s time and thus cost more).

Dental insurance usually covers part or all of the cost of extraction. The coverage ranges from 15% to 50%. You can cut costs by opting out of some services; for example, you can ask to be sedated instead of asleep during the procedure. If you’re not covered by insurance, you can look into financing, or ask your clinic if they have alternative payment plans. Most will accept deferred payment for costly extractions. The terms may be based on your credit history, so be ready to provide any necessary information.

Tooth Extraction Cost

Tooth extractions are among the most common of dental procedures. It’s tempting to assume that also makes them the cheapest, but that’s not always the case. While you can get an extraction for cheap, lots of others go into it, the most prominent being the type of extraction needed and the complexity of the procedure. Extracting the tooth itself can cost you as little as $50 or as much as $1,000.

A simple extraction, wherein the tooth is fully erupted, has small roots, and isn’t growing into any neighboring teeth, will cost $100 to $150. You may be able to get it for less if you shop around, but that’s the general range. The tooth extraction cost goes up the more complicated it gets, as it takes up more of the dentist’s time. When there’s surgery involved—for example, when the tooth breaks off at the gum or it’s impacted—the price can go up to $6000.Teeth that are partially covered by bone are harder to pull out and can cost even more.

Wisdom teeth are usually the hardest and most expensive to pull out. If there are no complications, the cost can run from $150 to $300. Impacted wisdom teeth can start at $350, and the price can go up depending on how complicated the surgery will be. Very complex cases are usually handled by a specialist known as a maxillofacial surgeon. Because they are more highly trained, they may charge significantly higher than your regular dentist.

Sedation and anesthesia usually add significantly to tooth extraction costs, although patients don’t always think of it. Sedation can set you back $200 to $400. You can choose to just get local anesthesia, although the doctor may insist that you be sedated if you need to keep still for a long operation. Other related costs include the initial checkup, which can range from $50 to $150, and x-rays, which can be as low as $10 or as much as $100.

Most dental insurance policies will cover at least 50% of the tooth extraction cost, provided it isn’t for purely cosmetic purposes. If you’re not covered or the procedure costs more than they’re willing to cover, you can look into financing plans—some clinics offer different payment options for patients undergoing expensive procedures. You can also go to a university dental clinic, where students in training can do it for you at a discount.

Porcelain Veneers Cost

Porcelain veneers are a recent but fast-growing trend in cosmetic dentistry. They are basically thin films of porcelain fixed to the front of your teeth so that they look whiter and smoother. Essentially, they are a form of permanent teeth whitening. Veneers have become hugely popular because they are fairly easy to apply and require minimal maintenance. Dentists recommend them for teeth that are stained or discoloured (usually from smoking or a medical condition), chipped, worn, or misaligned.

Price is probably the procedure’s biggest drawback. Porcelain veneers cost anywhere from under $1,000 to over $30,000, depending on a long list of factors. The most important ones are the extent of the veneer (all upper teeth, a full set, etc.), the type of porcelain applied, the dentist’s training (some specialize in veneers, while others work in general dentistry and do occasional cosmetic work), your location, and whether or not there is a warranty.

The dentist can choose from different types of porcelain veneers, and different ways to bond them to your teeth. A common type, known as composite veneers, are actually made of porcelain with a mix of other materials, which makes them sturdier and easier for the dentist to work with. Pressed ceramic veneers are stronger, but less realistic (they tend to be a stark, monochromatic white). Several other types exist, offering different levels of thickness, comfort, and price.

The cost of one veneer averages about $700. Most patients need more than that, however. A set of six veneers for your upper teeth starts at $4,500; it can go up to three times that if your case requires more handiwork and artistic ability from the dentist. A full set of visible upper teeth will require about 10 veneers, and this will cost you $6,000 to over $20,000. Extending that to the lower teeth runs the price up to the $12,000 – $30,000 range. The most expensive procedure is obviously a full set of upper and lower teeth veneers.

Other related costs, such as consultations and fittings, can add $50 to $200 to the bill. However, most clinics will waive these fees if you have the veneers done by them. Make sure to shop around and look into different terms, taking into account warranties and dentist experience. It’s usually better to pay more for a clinic that specializes in the procedure than take a chance with a less experienced practitioner, especially for the price you’re paying. If you’re unsure about the cost, ask if you can enter a payment plan, or opt out of certain services to lower the quote.

Preparing For Oral Surgery  

Oral surgery often requires as much preparation and recovery time as much larger procedures. After all, it involves a body part we use fairly regularly and for a rather important task. Your dentist or surgeon will usually give you pointers beforehand if you need surgery, but it’s always best to take a few extra precautions. Here are some that you may want to keep in mind.

Get your meds in advance:

Chances are you won’t be up for a trip to the drugstore right after your surgery. If possible, ask your dentist what medications you’ll need in advance, so you can pick them up earlier and have them with you right after the procedure. This will also allow you to take some of the standard medications earlier, such as the antibiotics and painkillers, rather than wait and endure the pain until you’ve bought the meds.

Make transport arrangements:

Depending on the type of anesthesia or sedation you’re on—something you’ll also have to discuss with your dentist—you may not be in the best shape to drive yourself home or commute. It’s usually best to have someone pick you up and take you home afterwards.

Follow pre-op instructions:

If you need IV sedation or a general anesthetic, your surgeon will usually tell you to avoid any food or water eight hours before your surgery. If it’s just a local anesthesia, you can usually have a light meal a couple of hours before the procedure, although this will be your dentist’s call. In any case, brush your teeth and floss right before the appointment. Don’t smoke for at least 12 hours before the surgery, and for at least 24 hours afterwards.

Plan your recovery diet:

After your surgery, you’ll likely be limited to soft foods that don’t make much use of your teeth. Spicy and acidic food, including soda, may also be prohibited. Water is usually best, but if you want something different, stick to healthy drinks like milk, tea, and protein shakes. Don’t drink with straws, as it can cause a painful reaction called dry socket, which will require additional treatment.

Sleep comfortably:

You may be instructed to sleep in a certain position to avoid pressure on the area of surgery, even if you’ve stayed in the hospital for a while. The best position is usually on your back with the back slightly elevated. To do this, cushion your back with a few pillows, adding one at a time until you reach a comfortable angle.

Caring For A Tooth Filling

Tooth fillings have become a routine procedure, often requiring no more than an hour or so at the dentist’s office. But that doesn’t mean nothing can go wrong, or that there are no precautions to take. Knowing what to expect and how to take care of your new filling is essential to making sure everything goes smoothly. Below are some things worth keeping in mind.

Expect some discomfort

Fillings aren’t as painful as they are uncomfortable. Most patients will feel sensitive to hot and cold food for up to three months after the filling; if it keeps up too long, you should let your dentist know. You’ll want to avoid extreme temperatures at first and then try to wean yourself back into it gradually. Many dentists will also advise you to avoid chewing too hard at first, although this is a matter of comfort more than safety.

Check your bite

Your dentist might tell you to bite down to see if the filling is properly aligned. Sometimes you can’t tell while you’re in the dentist’s chair as you’re still under medication, but watch for it in the days following your treatment. If it feels uneven or hurts when you try to bite down, your filling may need reshaping. Call your dentist right away so it can be fixed as early as possible.

Watch for pain

Mild pain may be normal especially if you’ve had a large filling. However, it normally isn’t bad enough to distract you or keep you from functioning. Be particularly wary of sharp, shooting pain in the gum or surrounding area—this may mean that fillings are too close to each other and are making your gums more sensitive. This is especially common with silver and gold fillings, but reactions aren’t uncommon in newer composite fillings as well.

Keep it clean

Needless to say, regular brushing and flossing is essential. Depending on the type, a filling can last five years or more than ten. But maintenance plays a bigger role in how long a filling lasts; the cleaner you keep them and the less pressure and friction they are exposed to, the longer it’ll be before they need replacing. Your dentist may recommend a special toothpaste you can brush with, both to relieve sensitivity and to help strengthen the filling. This isn’t always necessary, but it’s especially useful if you have multiple fillings as they’re more likely to deteriorate fast.